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Mental health experts fear incapacity benefit cuts

The Guardian - 1st June 2011 9:26 am

The government’s changes to the welfare system are having a “devastating” impact on hundreds of thousands of people with mental health problems and have driven some of the most vulnerable to try to take their own lives, according to charities and medical experts.

A letter published in The Guardian brands the government’s drive to reassess 1.5 million people receiving incapacity benefit as “deeply flawed” and warns that the rapid pace of change is having dire consequences.

“We’ve found that the prospect of incapacity benefit reassessment is causing huge amounts of distress and tragically there have already been cases where people have taken their own life following problems with changes to their benefits,” the letter, signed by leading mental health charities and a senior consultant from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, states.

“We are hugely worried that the benefits system is heading in a direction which will put people with mental health problems under even more pressure and scrutiny, at a time when they are already being hit in other areas such as cuts to services.”

In April the government began to send out 7,000 letters a week asking people to attend a “work capability assessment”. It is now sending out more than 11,000 reassessment requests and the first interviews will take place this month.

Read more at The Guardian.

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